Minister Krasniqi at the CoMoCoSEE: Serbia to return artefacts of Kosova!


Honourable Minister Grilc,
Honourable Ministers and Heads of Delegations,
Honourable Ms. Bokova, Ms. Vassiliou, Ms. Samardzic-Markovic,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to be here today at the Council of Ministers of Culture of South-East Europe on this first occasion that the Republic of Kosovo takes part in this important meeting. I would like to thank the Slovenian Minister of Culture for the invitation, but also all of you, dear colleagues, for welcoming Kosovo to this regional forum.

Although we participate today as observers, I trust that in the next meeting of the Council, Kosovo will be represented as an equal member. We have continuously followed the work of CoMoCoSEE, and I would like to express the highest consideration for the joint engagements that have been undertaken so far.

Kosovo’s participation in regional initiatives is very important and I am convinced that our contribution is going to be essential. If we have been absent from regional fora so far, we have nevertheless been active at the bilateral level. I would like to use this opportunity to thank many of the colleagues present here for the continuous cooperation that they have shown in recent years in fields of Culture and Cultural Heritage.

Formalisation of this cooperation through bilateral agreements in these fields has been and remains an important objective for us.
Honourable colleagues,

Kosovo is a country that in the last two years has gone against the current trends in Europe and has increased its budget for culture and cultural heritage. At the central level, we have 16 cultural and cultural heritage institutions. Compared to two years ago, the budgets for each institution have increased by around 50%. Moreover, we have also increased the financial support for independent cultural organisations and individual artists. A lot of effort has been focused in the promotion of Kosovo’s arts and culture, and of our rich cultural heritage.

In these past two years, Kosovo has been presented for the first time in some of the major global cultural events, including the Venice Biennale, Film Festivals in Cannes and Berlin, the Montreux Jazz Festival, and many other significant events. This was done to service our objective of supporting young artists by creating opportunities for them to present their talent, passion and work to the world.

One of our key priorities is cultural heritage and we have increased funding for the conservation and restoration of historical, religious and cultural monuments that are included in our list of cultural heritage assets under state protection. Apart from this increase in funding, we are also working on advancing our legislative framework in the fields of culture and cultural heritage, so it corresponds with the highest international standards. Drafting of a National Strategy for Culture and a National Strategy for Cultural Heritage is ongoing. In cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, starting from the next school year, we are planning the inclusion of a cultural heritage module in the curricula of primary and secondary education. We believe that, in the medium to long term, this may be an essential step that should bring concrete results, not only by increasing the knowledge of students regarding our shared cultural heritage, but also by raising their cultural awareness and contributing to social cohesion in general.

In recent years, Kosovo citizens’ awareness has increased with regards to the importance that cultural heritage has for a country and its society. I’d like to believe that this is because of our inclusive approach where heritage is something that unites us and not something that divides us, as was, unfortunately, the case in our past. Any monument has its unique history, its stories and symbolic, and it’s normal for certain communities to claim it as its own. But I believe that above all, such monuments are part of the cultural treasure that belongs to all and that should be shared and cherished by all.

I must say that quite a lot has been achieved in the past few years, but we have been lucky to have a generous support from our international partners in our endeavours. We are particularly indebted to the Council of Europe for their continuous assistance in our efforts in cultural heritage.

Honourable colleagues,

Genuine cooperation among our countries and the sense of respect among our peoples and cultures should be essential for all. Certainly, all of us often face challenges in our efforts and unfortunately, sometimes, the past holds the future hostage.

Allow me to mention a recent example that I believe may serve as a good model of institutional cooperation between countries that shows institutional respect for the culture and heritage of a nation. Some weeks ago, several archaeological artefacts that were smuggled to Germany were returned to Kosovo. For a few years, German authorities took care of this part of Kosovo’s treasure with the highest degree of responsibility. As I mentioned, these pieces of our history have now returned to their rightful place, the Museum of Kosovo. Such examples, as that of Germany in this instance, should be followed by all.
In the case of Kosovo, we hope that this example will be followed by the authorities in Serbia, which in 1999, in time of war, unjustly seized over one thousand and two hundred archaeological and ethnologic artefacts from the Museum of Kosovo. These artefacts have not yet been returned where they belong. I repeat our request to the authorities in Belgrade to act in a principled manner, in order for our two countries to initiate as soon as possible the process of returning these artefacts in the Museum of Kosovo. Like monuments, artefacts may have their own particular history that bears importance for a nation or a country, but essentially, they are a treasure that should belong to all. If we are committed to following European principles, then I believe that this process of return shall not be delayed.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In stating, once again, my pleasure for representing my country for the first time in this esteemed Council, allow me to express the commitment of the Republic of Kosovo to contribute to every regional initiative pertaining culture and cultural heritage. I support the presented declaration of this meeting, trusting that herewith we are approximating our visions for a more efficient management of cultural heritage and culture, in general. Again, I reiterate our request to be accepted as an equal member of the CoMoCoSEE. Furthermore, I want to express here Kosovo’s irreversible aspiration to become soon a part of other important international organizations, including Council of Europe and UNESCO.

In closing, allow me to wish you all good luck with your engagements and to invite you to substantiate these engagements by expanding the fields of bilateral and regional cooperation among us.

Thank you!